Jay Ambrose: Hello Biden, goodbye suburbs

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Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks at a voter activation center in Chester, Pennsylvania, on Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. - JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images North America/TNS

Give him victory and Joe Biden’s going to destroy suburbs.

Under his guidance, the federal government will withhold Housing and Urban Development grants if suburbs don’t salute, deciding their future instead of local governments. Single-family zoning will likely disappear. Business districts will be built. There will be more mass transit and restrictions on uses of autos. High-density apartment buildings will be constructed. A major objective: Bring in minorities and poor people from cities even though they are already there.

The concoction flows from the Fair Housing Act of 1968 outlawing segregation and, in 2015, resulting in an Obama administration regulation, something called Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing. It was a super-radical piece of social engineering requiring no evidence of discrimination in pushing ahead. Its advocates said suburbs were too expensive and that the way they were built has had racist consequences that regulatory transformation would obliterate. In a real-world demonstration in Westchester County, N.Y., the scheme was more a nightmare than a dream. President Donald Trump got rid of it. Biden wants it back.

Possibly encouraged by the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force, Biden is in fact excited by further-reaching proposals that would still employ the technique of relying on the omniscience of central planners making America better with no possibility of unintended consequences. Federal law prohibits HUD from authoritarian use of grants, but given a presidential opportunity and a Congress of Democrats, Biden promises to strike, and here is what the left insists you comprehend: With this makeover of suburbs and some other communities, Biden will help people who are poor and Black while Trump wants to help rich white people.

And yes, some suburbs are rich, and all-white neighborhoods remain. But most suburbs are middle class, and a third of those in suburbs currently are minorities. Here is what William Frey, an expert on such matters at Brookings Institution, is quoted as saying: “Suburbs are now a microcosm of America, in terms of rich and poor, Black and white and Hispanic.” In other words, suburbs are already integrated as a whole, and there are other, common sense ways to afford Black Americans such cited needs as better schools and work opportunities.

So why are Biden and other progressives intent on a citified, less pleasant suburban environment, disruption, higher taxes, diminished democracy and less family comfort by means of a regulation solving nothing much? Because that’s how their minds work: Big government is the answer to everything, the end justifies the means and therefore this initiative is on target. To believe in extending the regulatory conglomeration is to be compassionate and to be against it is to be racist.

Actually, further requirements for HUD grants could be more racist, seeing as how some of that money is aimed at helping the most economically distressed. It is also as unfair to Black as to white Americans to make them surrender control of their own communities to the federal government with plans that might have unwelcome effects on their own block. These are people who worked hard to get the house in a neighborhood they love, and the feds are going to mess with that? How about giving Black Americans credit for their own achievements and understanding that more government can sometimes mean additional anxiety?

To be sure, however, government can make a positive difference, as in Trump-supported prison reform getting 7,000 inmates released early and record high employment for Black Americans before the virus.

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ABOUT THE WRITER

Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may email him at speaktojay@aol.com.

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